In the latest commission came these wonderful "classic monsters". I was instructed by my client to paint them as they where in the original movies.
With this guidance i began to dig out files and articles i have saved over the years for this exact moment. Without further ado here is some of the findings i have realized whilst tackling this new and exciting practice.
I used only one pot of black from army painter and one pot of white from some unknown producer (label-less bottle from a con). I also used one rough standard brush, one fine standard brush, a fine brush and a fine drybrush for their hair. I used a white undercoat for all of them. Black would have been a nightmare for the whites so white was the way to go.
BLACK IS NOT BLACK - BUT BLACK IS BLACK
First of all, black, in black and white movies was rarely ever true black. In old movies they often used bright and gawdy colors so that the hue of an extravagant costume or makeup would appear on screen in a more vivid fashion. To this end i made sure not to use any true black. There is an argument to say that you could just spray them black, block plaint the skin white and everything else bits of grey. Truly this would create a stark and striking affect but it would of course lack the subtlety of the highlights and drapes of cloth etc.
Any black i did on the models was painted in layers over the white undercoat (three thin layers) and then highlighted very slowly in about five shades of grey. As you can see in the picture below, IGOR, a character famous for his form and costume (all black with shiny black gloves and belt) had to be approached carefully. I began by painting everything but the face black, then adding tiny dabs of white i highlighted everything slowly, leaving parts darker than others and bring the gloves up to an almost muted grey so that they where slightly distinguished from the rest.
WHITE HAS TO BE WHITE
On the test model i did the baron in a bright grey. Noting that pictures of him had him with a darker skin (than white) and then darker trousers again that is how i pursued his paint job.
Upon finishing him, and albeit very proud, i found the white just wasn't white enough. The reason this seemed important is that a white lab coat looked exactly that in the films, white as clouds. On other models with white i went brighter bringing the tone up right to a flat and bright white, this added to the contrast of the models and also made the white really pop. This is especially notable on the invisible man where i attempted a quick and snappy check pattern which looks wonderful on the tabletop. in retrospect i am glad that the baron has a darker labcoat as it helps to set him apart from the other scientist model . (Gene wilder)
FACIAL DEFINITION IS SO MUCH EASIER IN BLACK AND WHITE
I've been painting for years and my preferred method and tone of skin to paint is pretty set by now. For generically white looking skin i go for a red flesh tone and build up, for a predominantly dark tone i use a dark sienna base and build up from there. Typically it's easier to get a good definition and skin "sharpness" with dark skin tones due to the way they "catch the light". I found that painting skin in a grey tone is a fantastic way to get a lot of edges, sharpness and lines that give the face a little definition. It also makes the eyes "POP" which is always a great thing with such small models.
ALL IN ALL
Painting in black and white is both fun and "worth it". It doesn't matter that they barely fit with the rest of your collection because...well...it really doesn't matter. If you like the paint job, and it brings you joy to look at then go for it! Also these guys just wouldn't look right in color now!